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Illini going bowling in longtime fan’s backyard | University-illinois

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CRYSTAL BEACH, Fla. — If an Illini fan’s loyalty is measured by how much orange-and-blue merchandise he owns, then Ken Blan would probably rank right up there.

“I don’t now how many totes in a room are dedicated to Illini” clothes and other items, wife Lyndy said.

“We won’t be short on Illini attire,” Blan said.

An avid fan, Blan will attend Monday’s ReliaQuest Bowl game pitting his beloved Illini against Mississippi State.

He was born in Detroit, but Illinois fans shouldn’t hold that against him. Blan is a two-time UI grad — in 1968 in communications and 1971 in law.

He had StubHub cranked up and ready to order tickets the moment Tampa, Fla., which is just a 45-minute drive from his current home, was confirmed as the site where the Illini would play. He proudly flies an Illini flag outside his home.

Among the famous Blan alumni has gotten to know were Roger Ebert and Dick Butkus.

He called Ebert “a nice guy” and noted of Butkus, “It was nice getting to know the side of him that is more private as opposed to what his reputation is or has been.”

Blan will attend the game with his son, Noah, who is flying in from Lake Forest.

“It will be our first bowl game together,” said Blan.

This will be Blan’s sixth bowl game, beginning with the 1982 Liberty Bowl against Bear Bryant and Alabama.

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